(Osamu Dezaki, Japan, 1982)
From much-admired (in some circles) creator Buichi Terasawa, this insubstantial SF space opera succeeds as jolly entertainment of the pulp variety but achieves little else. Cobra is the most-wanted criminal in the galaxy but he's too busy planning his next scam and chasing females to worry too much about that. He teams up with a beautiful sidekick and they get mixed up in the usual high-jinks seasoned genre addicts will know well enough.
High camp is the order of the day. Art direction is clearly 70s influenced, but the sterile spacecraft and vast planet wastelands owe their look to the decade earlier and 1960s science fiction films. A dance music soundtrack (re-scored) by suitably cheesy German electro stalwarts Yello works surprisingly well. On top of this, Manga have provided a better than usual dub with good voice acting. The often psychedelic visuals are somewhat lost on smaller TV screens but the clever dialogue goes some way in making up for this. The well-realised villain - a mixture containing elements of skeletons and the 'liquid' robot from Terminator 2 - gets most of the best lines: "I want them dead or alive... but dead would be better!"
Accusations of plagiarism aside (mostly from Star Wars and its first sequel, but Barbarella and Logan's Run also get a look-in) it is in the ideas and imagination departments where Space Adventure Cobra scores the most. Potential viewers shouldn't expect realism from this, it is most definitely a cartoon, and no apologies are required for that. 6/10
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